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Common Law Relationship vs. Marriage

Many couples choose to cohabit rather than marry, it is important to be aware of your rights and obligations in a common law relationship versus a marriage.

Spouse
In a common law relationship, one becomes a spouse after three years of continuous cohabitation or when the couple cohabited in a relationship of some permanence and have a child together. For married spouses, one becomes a spouse after marriage.

Spousal Support
If your relationship meets that definition, you may be entitled to spousal support or be obligated to pay your former partner spousal support.

Property Division
The rules about property division do not apply unless you are legally married. If you are in a common-law relationship, there is no division of property.

Trust Claim
If you are not married but have contributed financially or in some other way to your spouse’s property, you might be able to make a trust claim. In order for your claim to succeed you need to prove that your spouse has been unjustly enriched at your expense.

Limitation Period
A married individual has 6 years from the date of separation or two years from the date of divorce to seek equalization of net family properties. A common law spouse has two years to make a claim for an entitlement to property.